October 04, 2011

Gluten free meal planning

I have made some progress on my February Lady Sweater and blouse, but not enough to blog about yet. So if it's all right with my readers, I thought I would take a few minutes to tell you how I now plan my meals. This month marks my one year anniversary of going gluten free which I did for health reasons.

Anyway, after getting through gluten detox (yes, that IS the right word), I had to come up with meals that I could eat. I wasn't very creative, I admit. We ate the same thing every week. One night was salad night followed by nights for tacos, fish, vegetable stew, and leftovers. It was very boring to say the least. Breakfast was an equal challenge as most traditional breakfast foods were out. Sometimes I ate grits, but I had problems even with that, which Dr. Davis explains as well.

Since I occasionally listen to Dave Ramsey on the radio, I heard him heavily promoting a meal planning service called e-mealz. It is a service that costs about $1.25/week that supplies a main course meal plan for 7 days plus a shopping list. As I investigated further, they had recently added a gluten free meal plan (they also have meal plans for other specialty diets). It was worth a try because I had to try something different.

I've now been using e-mealz gluten free menus for about 6 months and it has definitely changed and improved my meals. They are more interesting, flavorful and yummy. I'm eating a better variety of vegetables and meats. The gluten free option is very healthy.

Emealz - Easy Meals for Busy People!

So here is the nitty-gritty review:

The recipes and menus are really pretty good. The gluten free menus are written by someone who eats gluten free and that helps a lot. There are 2 chicken recipes, 1 fish recipe, 2 beef recipes, and occasionally a vegetarian meal or something else. The something else is sometimes a frittata, an egg based dish, which has been hit or miss. The last frittata recipe was actually pretty disgusting, a cauliflower feta egg dish that I just couldn't swallow. But after 6 months 90% of the recipes have been good. So on frittata night, I will sometimes figure something else out.

The gluten free menu plan is for 5-7 people. I am in a household of 2, so that means we have lots of leftovers. I eat the leftovers for breakfast and lunch.

The gluten free anywhere menu plan and the Walmart gluten free plan are pretty much the same. The menus are supposed to be optimized to save money based on your shopping preferences. But, at least with the gluten free option, it doesn't make a difference. I say pick the Walmart version, which has a column that lists Walmart prices on the shopping list. The anywhere plan does not have this. I find it helpful to see the prices so that I can better decide whether to buy something or not.

The cost of the groceries average about $90/week for the gluten free option. I think the other menus are around $60/week. The gluten free option relies primarily on fresh vegetables, fruit, and meats, which are more expensive. In any event, it is less expensive and healthier than buying pre-packaged gluten free convenience food. The menu writers are based in the Southeastern US and that does cause some problems for me living in the Northwest, not to mention I don't shop at Walmart very often as it is too far. My local grocery store matches many Walmart prices, but not all. Some vegetables are in season in the southeast and not in the northwest. So while I can buy fresh asparagus most times of the year, it costs about $6/lb compared to their $2/lb. If I go strictly by the plan and buy everything on it, my actual cost will be $20-30 above the estimate. This cost does not include any other groceries you may need for other family members, breakfasts or lunches.

There are a few things I do to keep my grocery budget down to the $90/week. I buy case lots of some of the ingredients frequently called for, like diced tomatoes. This way I only have to shop in my pantry and fill in as needed. I will also substitute frozen for fresh or canned for fresh when the prices are too high. At other times I will completely substitute another vegetable that will work, as in the asparagus example.

Some of the recipes are dairy heavy. For individuals going gluten free for health reasons, your digestive system may not be able to handle the dairy load. I have had trouble with some of the dairy heavy recipes. You may have to substitute on those nights if you are sensitive.

There are other gluten free menu planning services, some endorsed by dietitians or gluten free cook book authors. Those services average about $40/month compared to the $5/month for e-mealz. For the value, e-mealz wins hands down.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I'll try to adress them later.

Emealz - Easy Meals for Busy People!  

Please note that I do earn a small referral fee if you click on the banners above and purchase a plan. I independently purchased the e-mealz menu planning service and the opinions presented are my own. I chose to participate in the referral program because I liked the service. I also participate as an Amazon Associate and I do receive referrals on links to Amazon, though it's not very much.

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